What we commonly call environmental Allergens or sensitivities is actually an Allergens reaction to tiny, microscopic particles. They can be a plague in the home to you and your children, causing interruption of sleep and multiple health problems, including irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, as well as worsening asthma symptoms.
Thank goodness there are 10 steps you can take to treat your home and minimize the presence of allergens, without using toxic chemicals! Let’s take a look.
1. Clean Those Surfaces
While the bedroom is ground zero for particle accumulation, they can congregate on surfaces all around the house. The more you clean–at least weekly–the fewer allergens can survive in your home. They congregate on fiber surfaces most of all–after the small fibers of bedding, they also gather in larger fiber materials like upholstered furniture and carpet and upholstered furniture. To eliminate allergens on surfaces as part of your home treatment plan for allergens, wipe down or mop smooth surfaces with warm water, and be sure to vacuum carpet, rugs, and even upholstered furniture. Using certified asthma and allergy-friendly vacuums cleaners will ensure that you are getting rid of as many allergens as possible when you put in the work to protect your home.
2. Get the Right Window Treatments
Allergen particles gather on window treatments, with heavy drapes and large blinds being the most allergen-friendly. If have taken many of the steps listed here but continue to suffer from allergy attacks upon waking, look at your window treatments and make a change. Avoid drapes and large blinds, and opt for washable roll-down shades, washable curtains, and mini-blinds. The easier your window treatments are to clean, the better.
3. Use Encasements In All Bedrooms
Allergens proliferate with their greatest ferocity in warm, humid environments, especially the bedroom. They seek breeding grounds in our bedding, including mattresses, pillows, and duvets. Protecting bedrooms goes a long way to offering night time relief from allergies.
Just how should you protect your bedroom? Zippered bedding encasements for pillows, duvet covers, and mattresses serve as high-performance barriers. Available in engineered fabrics and all-natural cotton, these encasements prevent the entry of allergy particles and feature a wicking function that enables your body heat and perspiration to escape. Buying encasements should be among your priority list in fighting allergies at home.
4. Wash Bedding Often
Washing sheets and pillow cases at hot temperatures ensures that you get rid of allergy particulate matter. Make sure you wash any uncovered pillows and even stuffed toys at temperatures exceeding 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping those sheets and pillow cases clean is a key part of any home treatment plan for allergies.
5. New Flooring
If your family allergy problem justifies the expense for better health, you may want to explore new flooring as part of your home treatment plan. Low-pile carpet or non-carpet flooring, such as hardwood, tile, laminate, or vinyl options work best. The smoother the surface, the fewer the fibers present in your home and your bedroom, and the better your family will feel after a full night’s sleep without exposure to allergens. If you’re unsure about this step, you can learn more from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
6. Choose the Right Furniture
Again, for those with severe sensitivities or allergies, evaluate the bedroom furniture. Upholstered headboard? Although it’s trendy, it’s not healthy if you have allergies. Overstuff, upholstered furniture should go first, and in its place should be sofas and chairs that are either bare or made with easily washable and/or vacuumable cushions.
7. Minimizing Pet Dander
Pet dander is a primary source of allergic reactions. If you have pets, a key component of your home treatment plan is pet dander management. The more you bathe and brush your pets, the better. It should go without saying that pets should stay off the bed, ground zero for collecting pet dander in an area that will affect your sleep. Better yet, try to keep pets out of our bedroom entirely. Make sure you wash pet beds and stuffed pet toys with the same methods (hot water) and frequency (weekly) as you do your own bedding.
8. Declaring War on Mold
Managing mold should be part of everyone’s home treatment plan for allergies. Mold thrives in humidity, so you should take measures like reducing your shower times, eliminating house plants, and immediately fixing any leaky faucets and other plumbing. For more severe dampness, run your air conditioning on the recirculate setting an consider using dehumidifiers year-round. And when you see mold, clean it immediately with bleach, plain and simple.
9. Keeping Your Air Clean
Look into air purification systems and air duct cleaning to support your home treatment plan for allergies. Many local ac repair technicians will offer duct cleaning and enhanced air filtration systems. The key to air purifier selection is matching the right sized purifier to the size of your room. Small devices work in rooms up to 150 square feet, while medium sized devices are optimized for approximately 200-400 square feet. In an open concept home, you may want to look for one or more large devices. As with vacuum cleaners, look for certified asthma and allergy-friendly models of air purifiers for your home.
While some people use chemical pesticides like sprays, foggers, and fumigators to rid their homes of allergens, we’ve made it number 10 on the list because it’s not necessary if you take steps 1-9. The evidence is strongest in relation to studies on physical measures (i.e., covering bedding, removing carpets, and hot washing of blankets) in a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. None of the successful studies had a major component of chemical treatment. Very few infestations actually justify this drastic and environmentally unfriendly measure and most people choose natural options to avoid chemicals in the home, especially in the bedroom.
If you or your loved ones are experiencing reactions to allergies, especially upon waking, it’s important to begin implementing a home treatment plan right away. Start with your bedroom and move the process into other rooms as time and budget allow. In most cases, using a combination of the recommendations above, your home will become a sanctuary from allergies rather than the cause of your symptoms.
Jamie Lickert provides resources and educational materials on allergy control for home product industries.